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'It was the most devastating time of my life' - The story behind Ireland's Darkness Into Light is a must-read


Credit: Humans of Dublin / Peter Varga

Credit: Humans of Dublin / Peter Varga

Credit: Humans of Dublin / Peter Varga

The couple behind Pieta House's Darkness Into Light have explained what inspired them to set up the annual charity walk.

In a show of solidarity for suicide prevention, 200,000 people worldwide are expected to take part in the annual Darkness Into Light event.

The movement is in aid of Pieta House and in Ireland - as dawn breaks - 150 walks will take place in various locations across the country; the largest will be in Dublin's Phoenix Park.

The couple behind Ireland's Darkness Into Light spoke to Humans of Dublin photographer, Peter Varga, about the heartbreaking events that inspired them to set it up.

"I used to cycle down to my cousin's almost every day after school, and one of those days I was pedalling down on an old sand path in the dark, head in the clouds, when I suddenly saw three people in front of me," said Johnny Fox - the man behind the movement.

"I didn't get the time to use the brakes, so I knocked one of them down. At the time I didn't know I'd spend the rest of my life with that person."

The person that Johnny knocked down was to become his wife and the couple had 12 children together but tragically lost two of them.

"We lost one to cancer and the other to suicide. Only a year and a half apart," he said.

"It was the most devastating time in our life, but we supported each other, the whole way through."

The couple said they found hope through Pieta House and wanted to support the organisation with the work it was doing for people and families affected by mental health issues and suicide.

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"I've been coaching athletics forever so I thought it would be great to organise a fundraising walk or run. It wasn't easy but we really enjoyed doing it," he said.

"I never thought one day I'd be standing in Phoenix Park looking at thousands of people, knowing that each and every one of them has something in common. It's a wonderful feeling and it helped us deal with the loss of our sons a bit better."

But he said none of it would have happened without the support of his wife.

"None of this would've been possible without my wife's support. I've achieved a lot in my life, but if you ask me, I'd say knocking her down that night was the greatest achievement I ever made."

This year's 5km Darkness Into Light takes place tomorrow at 4.14am.

The first international walk kicked off in Christchurch, New Zealand at 7.15pm GMT on Thursday and the last walk will be in Vancouver, Canada at 1pm GMT on Saturday.

The "unprecedented level of support this year" caused the organisation to run out of yellow t-shirts.

You can register for the event here.

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